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Daniel Cormier Retires

July 5th, 2014 by Tom

wrestling shoes

Daniel Cormier retires from wrestling for good, leaves his shoes on the mat after win over Chris Pendleton.

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Daniel Cormier tied a ribbon around his prestigious amateur wrestling career earlier this afternoon, defeating former Oklahoma State University (OSU) teammate, Chris Pendleton, in an exhibition match at UFC's "Fan Expo" in Las Vegas, Nevada.

"DC" went down early (0-3), but the U.S. freestyle wrestling team captain (2008) stormed back to record a dominant win on points (12-5).

He summed up the experience in a post-match interview with MMAFighting.com:

"I didn't get to wrestle in the Olympics, I didn’t get to do my last match, so I wanted to finish my career on mat, rather than in the hospital. I wanted to end it on the mat.... It felt crazy. I was so nervous before, and then Chris takes me down and he’s winning 3-0. It was kind of scary, man, I don’t like to lose. It was crazy.... It was a good finish. Now that I’m in the UFC and fighting in the UFC, and to do it at the Fan Expo, it means a lot. I guess it's a symbol of completely finishing that chapter and moving onto the next chapter in my life. I can feel it now already there was something back with wrestling that I needed to get rid of, and now I can move on from it."

Pendleton is certainly no scrub. He was a two-time Big 12 champion who won back-to-back NCAA titles (2004, 2005) at 174 pounds at the expense of uber-talented mat rat, Ben Askren.

And Cormier was able to handle him despite an injured knee, one that will require surgery to repair later this year as he awaits the winner of Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson, which is now set for UFC 178 in Las Vegas on Sept. 27, 2014.

Ben Askren Talks Joining the UFC, Staying Active and MMA Future

November 26th, 2013 by Tom

Wrestler Ben Askren

He’s never stepped foot in an Octagon to compete but is one of the world’s best welterweights. He also happens to be available for hire.

Ben Askren, the former Bellator welterweight champion, took time to speak with Bleacher Report MMA about a future that’s uncertain. It was widely suspected thatAskren would immediately head towards the UFC with his run in Bellator done, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

UFC president Dana White let it be known that the company has no interest in signing Askren, implying he could go elsewhere and improve his overall game. By many fans, it seems like White is simply trying to control who has the bargaining chips at the negotiation table and Askren agrees.

“I’d be shocked if I didn’t get an offer from the UFC,” Askren said. “I’m the sixth ranked fighter in the division.”

Askren achieved that kind of recognition by amassing a 12-0 record while competing mainly in Bellator. He’s one of the best wrestlers to enter the sport in recent memory and outside of the fight with Jay Hieron, has rag-dolled the 170-pound division inBellator.

It would make sense for Askren to be signed for the promotion, as it’s hard to be the premier promotion in the world and not sign a top 10 talent if they’re available. Askrenhas even offered to help Joe Silva by picking his opponent for his UFC debut, Rory MacDonald.

Askren came on The MMA Hour to call out the Tri-Star product as someone who irked him, even offering to fight for free and retire if he lost. It’s quite the confident statement for a fighter who’s never faced a top 10 opponent and calling out a fighter who was widely regarded as the future of the 170-pound division.

“You know, there’s people in life that you can’t put your finger on it, but you just know they bother you. That’s him,” Askren said of MacDaonald.

But why MacDonald? Other than the fact Askren doesn’t like him, he believes it’s a great matchup for him.

“I feel like my jiu-jitsu and wrestling are better. When it got tough (at UFC 167) he backed down. You might land a good punch here and there but to beat me, you’re going to have to be tough. I think he was severely over-hyped.”

Over-hyped is a sentiment about Askren that’s shared by a number of MMA fans. It’s easy to discredit Askren’s credentials based on the level of competition he’s faced and how easily he’s dispatched of his opponents. Although fans may not be universally backing a “#SignAskren” movement, the former Bellator champion has his eyes focused on the future.

“You know I do or say things sometimes to get a reaction out of fans,” Askren said. “It’s all about the fans wanting to see you. Whether they want to see you win or lose, as long as they tune in.”

The UFC could certainly use the interest Askren would undoubtedly create. With their biggest pay-per-view draw, Georges St-Pierre, uncertain if he wants to come back, the UFC is in need of guys who can sell a card. And like Askren pointed out, plenty of fans will tune in to watch him win or lose.

But the UFC seems content on not rushing to sign Askren, even though the World Series of Fighting has already put an offer on the table. But it’s clear from hearingAskren speak that competing in the WSOF is at the top of his wish list.

I’d have to think long and hard about joining the World Series of fighting. I honestly think there’s more competition in Bellator at 170 pounds. I mean their champion (Steve Carl) couldn’t even get past the semifinal round ofBellator’s tournaments. I can make money a lot of ways besides being locked in a cage.

Since being let go by Bellator, Askren has manged to keep himself busy outside a MMA cage. He has two wrestling schools in the Milwaukee area and is, of course, training and coaching his teammates at Roufusport. He also competed at Agon Wrestling Championship against Penn State’s Quentin Wright and dominated their match by the score of 22-8.

Askren explained that he likes the vision of AWC and said there’s six, possibly seven events on the horizon. It’s an attempt to not only raise awareness about wrestling due to the Olympics fiasco, but also a chance to see many of the best collegiate wrestlers competing against one another such as when Bubba Jenkins faces Kyle Dake in Madison Square Garden later this year.

However, virtually everyone in the MMA world is waiting for Askren and the UFC to put pen to paper. The jump in competition from Bellator to the UFC is sure to be vastly different, but it’s not something Askren is concerned about.

“I’m going to keep doing what I do best,” Askren said. “I’m working on my weaknesses at Roufusport and I train with Anthony Pettis, who I could argue is the best striker in all of MMA. And we train kickboxing, boxing, not just MMA.”

True, Askren does train with a very talented camp and one of the best coaches in all of MMA. He’s accomplished a lot not only in MMA, but in amateur wrestling as well. All that’s missing is a chance at UFC gold.

Best NCAA Wrestlers Turned MMA Fighters

December 3rd, 2011 by Tom

By Brian Lopez-Benchimol

Of all the bases of martial arts to build upon a budding, MMA, career, wrestling has been one of the truer and more dominant.

Over the years, we have seen a steady increase in the amount of accomplished wrestlers entering the sport today, with some reaching great heights in becoming world champions in their respective organizations.

The NCAA wrestler represents the upper echelon of competitive athletes who have garnered praise from their conferences, often times having been scouted by larger universities due to their obvious prowess.

So, among the world's best MMA fighters today, who came from an NCAA background?

Ben Askren

Current Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren, who recently defeated former UFC and Strikeforce veteran Jay Hieron in the first defense of his title, comes from a long and very prestigious background as an athlete.

Wrestling for the University of Missouri, Askren earned two state titles as a high school wrestler prior to his entry into the big leagues. As a collegiate wrestler, Askren became a runner-up at 174 pounds at the NCAA Division I championships in both 2004 and 2005. He later claimed the title in 2006 and 2007"making him one of the more accomplished athletes to have ever been as successfully competitive.

Askren parlayed his skills toward the 2008 Olympics. Though he came up short there, he has since rebounded with the success he has reached now, becoming an undefeated and highly touted mixed martial artist.

Joe Warren

Current Bellator featherweight champion-turned-bantamweight hopeful Joe Warren has enjoyed a lot of success as an MMA fighter while he is still gunning for a competitive amateur career as a wrestler.

Warren attended East Kentwood High School, where he won two state titles before attending the University of Michigan. His star really shined afterwards.

Warren took gold in two World Cup tournaments before earning first once again in the prestigious Pan American Games in 2006, making him an early favorite in the 2008 Olympic Games. However, Warren failed to qualify for the prestigious tournament after he had tested positive for marijuana in the pre-drug screenings.

He will now look to accomplish the feat that had slipped his grasp in years prior, as Warren will look to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games.

Chuck Liddell

The former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell came from a long history of athleticism as a youth.

At the age of 12, Liddell began Koei-Kan Karate and later took up football in high school, become a four-year starter at San Marcos High.

Liddell would later attend California Polytechnic State University, transitioning his skills to the mat, where he became an NCAA Division I wrestler for the school, though he failed to acquire any real title recognition.

No matter, as Liddell has since used his wrestling base, coupled with knockout power, to become one of the most recognized and popular fighters in the world of mixed martial arts. He has since been inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

Cain Velasquez

The current UFC heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez comes from a rich background as a wrestler.

Velasquez took to sports early, as he wrestled all four years at Kofa High School, winning the 5A Arizona Wrestling Championship twice, compiling an astonishing 110-10 record in those formative years.

Velasquez attended Iowa Central Community College, where he wrestled for one season and won the NJCAA National Championship.

The heavyweight great went to the prestigious Arizona State University, where he became a standout early on the NCAA Division I scene, placing fifth in the country in 2005 and fourth in 2006 while compiling an overall record 86-17.

Now, Velasquez enjoys the success of his MMA career, where he remains undefeated and presides as the UFC's undisputed heavyweight ruler.

Matt Hughes

The former two-time UFC welterweight champion built his illustrious career as a mixed martial artist thanks to his extensive wrestling background.

Hughes attended Hillsboro High School, where he became a two-time IHSA Class A State Wrestling Champion at 155 pounds. Next, Hughes attended Eastern Illinois University, where he immediately earned NCAA Division I All-American honors, placing eighth and fifth in his final two years at 157.

Though collegiate titles escaped him there, Hughes has since become one of the more accomplished mixed martial artist to have ever lived.

Randy Couture

How do you follow after such an illustrious photo like that?

As a youth, Couture wrestled early in life beginning in middle school before attending Lynwood High School, where he became state champion in his senior year.

Couture later attended Oklahoma State, where he became a two-time runner-up for the NCAA Division I championship while earning All-American honors. After his collegiate career, Couture went on to become a three-time Olympic alternate before transitioning to the world of mixed martial arts.

There, Couture first claimed the UFC heavyweight title in just his fourth bout as a professional. Since then, Couture has acquired a total of five titles in the organization"three in the heavyweight class and two as a 205-pounder, a feat that has been unmatched since.

Josh Koscheck

Koscheck comes from a long and rich background as an amateur wrestler and, on paper, was one of the best to enter the Octagon.

Coming into prominence at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Koscheck won all of his 42 matches as a junior, going on to become the Division I champion at 174 pounds.

The enigmatic Kosheck earned All-American honors after coming in fourth, second, first and third, respectively, in his four years at Edinboro. His accomplishments helped earn him three PSAC Wrestler of the Year awards while earning the Eastern Wrestling League Achievement Award on two separate occasions.

Since then, Koscheck has been regarded as one of the top-five welterweight fighters in MMA, having defeated the likes of Diego Sanchez, Paul Daley and Matt Hughes in his career, while challenging for a world title in the process.

Kevin Randleman

The future UFC heavyweight champion was always a powerhouse, even in his earlier days as a youth.

Randleman attended the prestigious Ohio State University, where he competed at 177 pounds. Randleman became the two-time NCAA Division I champion, earning All-American honors after his incredible and storied run of becoming one of the few men to earn the title back-to-back (in 1992 and 1993) after becoming a runner-up in 1991 as a sophomore.

After his collegiate career, Randleman moved into the world of mixed martial arts, where he first came into prominence in the UFC and became the undisputed champion in just his third bout with the organization.

In his career, Randleman holds notable victories over the likes of former champion Maurice Smith, Pedro Rizzo, Renato Sobral and former Pride great Mirko Cro Cop.

Phil Davis

One of the more promising stars in the mixed martial arts world, Phil Davis first built his star on the foundation built as a collegiate wrestler.

He began that career at Penn State, finishing fifth at the NCAA Division I championships in 2007. Davis would later earn the prestigious title in 2008 as a senior, graduating as a four-time All-American while compiling an overall 116-17 record.

Since then, Davis has gone on a tear as a professional mixed martial artist. Davis went on a 4-0 run is less than one year's time before being called up to the UFC, where he defeated former WEC champ Brian Stann in his debut.

Since then, Davis remains undefeated and has gone 5-0 inside the Octagon, with his last bout earning him top-10 status after defeating former Pride star Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

Shane Carwin

The powerhouse in Shane Carwin first built his base as a collegiate wrestler.

Carwin attended Western State College in 1996, where he became the NCAA Division II runner-up both in 1996 and 1997. Eventually, Carwin earned the NCAA Division II heavyweight national championship in 1999 and later became a volunteer coach for the University of North Colorado.

It was in that area where Carwin linked up with the Grudge Training Center, headed by top trainer Trevor Wittman. Since then, Carwin has earned world recognition, beginning his career with an 8-0 start before making his way to the UFC.

There, Carwin has earned knockout victories over the likes of Christian Wellisch, former title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga and former champ Frank Mir"the latter of which earned Carwin the interim title in the process.

Matt Hamill

Though Hamill competed on the Division III circuit in his amateur wrestling career, he deserves recognition nonetheless since he accomplished much while being deaf.

Hamill attended Rochester Institute of Technology in 1996. In 1997, 1998 and 1999, Hamill earned the NCAA Division III championship, competing at 167, 190 and 197 pounds, respectively.

Invited to the 2001 Summer Deaflympics, Hamill won a silver medal in Greco-Roman and gold as a freestyle wrestler.

Hamill then transitioned his skills to the mixed marital arts scene, where Hamill joined the UFC on the heels of his stint on The Ultimate Fighter on Season 3. Hamill became a top contender in the 205-pound class, where he earned impressive victories over Keith Jardine, top contender Mark Munoz and former champion Tito Ortiz.

Mark Coleman

Former UFC champ Mark Coleman, much like all successful heavyweight hopefuls, built his career on his collegiate career as a wrestler.

Beginning wrestling as a teen, Coleman attended Miami University in Ohio, where became the two-time Mid-American Conference champion. In his final year, Coleman transferred to the prestigious Ohio State, where he won the NCAA Division I title and clinched his spot as an All-American athlete.

Coleman earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic wrestling team, placing second at the FILA Wrestling World Championships and seventh overall at the 1992 Summer Olympics.

Coleman would later be labeled as the "godfather of ground-and-pound, "when he transitioned to the MMA scene, winning the UFC 10 Tournament in his debut as a pro in 1996.

Coleman would win the subsequent tournament before becoming the organization's first heavyweight champion by besting Dan Severn with a first-round submission. A subsequent Grand Prix title in the Pride organization built Coleman's star, where he was eventually inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

Mark Munoz

On paper, Mark Munoz could very well be the best wrestler to ever enter the UFC.

Attending Vallejo High School, Munoz earned the California State Wrestling Championship twice at 189 pounds and the 1996 NHSCA national high school championship as well.

Munoz was later scouted and recruited by Oklahoma State University after having been one of the most-sought-after wrestlers in the country. Munoz earned two Big 12 titles while taking home the prestigious NCAA Division I title in his senior year.

Munoz also took his skills into international waters when he earned the silver medal at the FILA Junior World Wrestling Championships in 1998.

Since then, Munoz has become of the fast rising contenders in the middleweight division in the UFC, having bested the likes of Kendall Grove, Aaron Simpson, C.B. Dollaway and most recently Demian Maia, besting the former title challenger by decision.

Tyron Woodley

Current Strikeforce phenom Tyron Woodley came from humbling backgrounds as a youth.

Born 11th of 13, Woodley grew up in Ferguson, Missouri. When he was at McCluer High School, Woodley was a natural athlete, becoming a two-time state wrestling finalist before earning his first official title as a senior when he totaled a 48-0 record.

Woodley attended the University of Missouri, alongside Ben Askren, where he earned NCAA Division I honors and All-American stature. He became team captain from 2003-2005, earning the Big 12 title in 2003 before becoming runner-up in 2005.

Since then, Woodley has been coveted as one of the top prospects in MMA. Woodley is undefeated as a pro, holding notable victories over the likes of Andre Galvao, Tarec Saffiedine and former UFC contender and Strikeforce title challenger Paul Daley.

Mo Lawal

An international success in every sense of the word, "King "Mo first took to the MMA scene on the heels of a very extensive wrestling career that extended past his collegiate efforts.

Growing up in Texas, Lawal became a two-time high school state runner-up in 1997 and 1998 before taking the title in 1999 at the Texas state championships.

Lawal attended the University of Central Oklahoma, where he competed for three years in the Division II circuit, becoming the 2001 runner-up before taking the NCAA Division II title in 2002. He later earned the Big 12 title in 2003 before moving up to Division I.

Lawal took third before he went on to the international circuit, where he earned a litany of titles and totaled well over 20 medals and/or titles. Once an Olympic hopeful, Lawal transitioned to the world of mixed martial arts in 2008.

Lawal took a big splash in his MMA career when he defeated UFC veteran Travius Wiuff in his debut, knocking out the touted heavyweight in a little over two minutes. Eventually, Lawal became the Strikeforce 205-pound champion when he defeated Gegard Mousasi by decision.

Cole Konrad

A successful collegiate wrestler-turned-world champion"this story sounds familiar.

Cole Konrad began his career as an accomplished wrestling standout at Freedom High School, compiling an overall 101-15 record winning the Wisconsin state championship in 2002. Konrad entered the Junior National Championships, earning titles in both Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling.

Konrad attended University of Minnesota, where as a junior, Konrad went undefeated, eventually parlaying his success to the NCAA Division I championship. Konrad again repeated the amazing feat as a senior, going undefeated again and taking the prestigious title in 2007.

At the Pan American Games in 2005, Konrad won the freestyle wrestling title in the 120 kg division.

Since then, "The Polar Bear "has become a hot MMA prospect. He has found lots of success as a pro, earning the Bellator heavyweight championship after defeating a bevy of opponents in the organization's first tournament.

Victories over Damian Grabowski and UFC veterans Neil Grove and former title challenger Paul Buentello anchor his list of accolades.

Don Frye

MMA great Don Frye has become one of the more notable fixtures in all of the sport, thanks to his moustache, persona and overall fighting skills that rely on his wrestling background.

Frye attended Buena High School in Sierra Vista, where he first found wrestling, and attended the prestigious Arizona State University, where fighters such as Cain Velasquez, C.B. Dollaway and Aaron Simpson have all called home at one point.

Frye won three Pac-10 titles in college, earning Division I All-American honors for his efforts which he later parlayed into Olympic run. In 1987, Frye won both the freestyle and Greco-Roman events during the Olympic qualifier, where in his senior year he finished out his career at Oklahoma State.

Since then, Frye has been recognized as a pioneer in MMA, winning the UFC 8 tournament upon his mixed martial arts debut and the heavyweight tourney in December of 1996. For some time, Frye held the record for fastest knockout in the UFC after he finished Thomas Ramirez with a KO punch in just eight seconds.

Jon Fitch

Despite convincing himself that he is not an athlete but a tireless worker, Fitch does come from a competitive background as a wrestler.

Attending Carroll High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Fitch wrestled at Purdue University as a walk-on. Fitch wrestled while under the watchful eye of mixed martial arts icon Tom Erikson.

A four-year letterman, Fitch became team captain of the Boilermakers, compiling an overall 97-12 record and earning NCAA Division I honors.

Though he went relatively unaccomplished as a collegiate athlete, Fitch has since become one of the more notable figures in mixed martial arts. He is considered universally as the consensus No. 2 fighter in the welterweight division.

Fitch has compiled an overall 13-1-1 record inside the Octagon and holds notable victories over the likes of Thiago Alves (twice), Diego Sanchez and Paulo Thiago, while having challenged for a world title against current champion Georges St-Pierre, turning in a "Fight of the Night "worthy performance in defeat.

Johny Hendricks

Hendricks attended the highly touted Oklahoma State University on the heels of a long and accomplished wrestling career in high school, where he earned three Oklahoma state titles whilst competing for Edmond Memorial High School.

In 2005 and 2006, Hendricks took home the NCAA Division I title, wrestling then at 165 pounds.

Hendricks finished second in 2007, making him a four-time All-American at the university, polishing off his career with three Big 12 titles before making his way to the world of mixed martial arts.

Since entering the Zuffa fold, Hendricks has gone 8-1 under both the WEC and UFC banners. He holds an overall 11-1 record, and his lone defeat comes at the hands of contender Rick Story.

Hendricks holds impressive wins over The Ultimate Fighter Season 7 winner Amir Sadollah and Charlie Brenneman"knocking out both men before the final bell.

Jake Rosholt

UFC veteran Jake Rosholt remains as accomplished as they come on the collegiate scene.

Beginning his career at Sandpoint High School, Rosholt would win three Idaho state titles and the national title in 2001 at 189 pounds.

Rosholt attended Oklahoma State University, where he won the NCAA Division I title in his freshman year, a feat that is rare.

Rosholt again claimed NCAA fame again in 2005 and 2006, earning All-American honors all four years of college while making him a legend in the wrestling scene. He's one of only a few men to earn three NCAA titles.

Following his accomplished collegiate career, Rosholt moved to the world of MMA, where he went uncontested in his five outings. He entered the UFC on the heels of his brief stint in the now-defunct WEC promotion.

In the organization, he picked up a convincing victory over perennial contender Chris Leben, submitting the heavy hitter with a third round arm-triangle choke.

Brock Lesnar

When Brock Lesnar was born in Webster, South Dakota, a star was born.

Lesnar picked up the wrestling bug at an early age when he attended Webster High School, securing a 33-0 record in his senior year.

Lesnar attended the University of Minnesota on scholarship, where he would take second place at the NCAA Division I championships. Lesnar vindicated himself in 2000 when he took the title, earning All-American honors in his final two years at the university.

In his four years as a collegiate wrestler, Lesnar compiled an astounding 106-5 record overall.

Though a stint as a WWE star soon followed, Lesnar eventually made his way to mixed marital arts, where he joined the UFC in February of 2008. In just his second professional bout, Lesnar took on former world champion Frank Mir, besting him early before succumbing to submission.

Eventually, Lesnar earned the heavyweight title when he defeated UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture and later avenged his defeat to Mir by successfully defending his title, TKO'ing the jiu-jitsu expert on second-round strikes.

A victory over Shane Carwin followed, legitimizing Lesnar's place a world-ranked MMA fighter.

Focused Askren has no time for Olympics

October 16th, 2011 by Tom

Ben Askren With the 2012 Olympics on the horizon, a number of the biggest names in amateur wrestling, including gold medalists Rulon Gardner (2000) and Cael Sanderson (2004), are considering making one final run at glory.

Bellator featherweight title holder Joe Warren, a world wrestling champion in 2006, is in training to make the U.S. team. And even though few take him seriously, 1996 gold medalist Kurt Angle also talks about it.

But Bellator's welterweight champion, Ben Askren, one of the best collegiate wrestlers of this generation, is not interested in throwing his hat back into that ring. Unlike the others, who will range in age from 33 for Sanderson, 35 for Warren, and 41 and 43 for Gardner and Angle when the Olympics roll around, Askren is still in his prime.

He's 27 and has never taken a break from competition, walking right from the 2008 Olympics, where he didn't place, into mixed martial arts, where he's gone 8-0.

"I still have an attachment to wrestling, but I have no interest in coming back," he said. "I want to be a mixed martial artist and that's what I'm going to do. Mixed martial arts is how I make my living now. It's too hard to compete at a high level in both things. You can be mediocre at both things, and I want to be the best at one thing."

Although Warren is talking about walking back in and winning a gold medal, Askren doesn't see it as a possibility.

"I don't think Joe's being 100 percent realistic," he said. "It's way different. They are two totally different worlds. Wrestling is a big part of mixed martial arts, but they are worlds away. There aren't enough hours in the day to train for both. If you're a wrestler and want to be on the Olympic team, you have to spend three or four hours a day just wrestling. You wouldn't have any time to train jiu-jitsu or striking. If I did that, I'd be a mediocre fighter and I'd never get better."

Askren has relied primarily on his wrestling for offense and jiu-jitsu for submission awareness to become Bellator's champion. He takes a step up in competition Oct. 29 at Kansas City's Memorial Hall when he makes his first title defense against Jay Hieron (22-4), himself a former Division I wrestler at Hofstra.

Askren has said this fight will be unique in that Hieron will be the first person he's fought that he really doesn't like. Hieron drew first blood in the verbal wars after earning a title shot by winning a three-month long tournament that ended May 7, and immediately, in reference to Askren, said, "If I wanted someone to lay on me, I'd call up my girlfriend."

Said Askren: "I'd say it's a step up [in competition], but not a huge one. I don't like Jay Hieron. It's the first person I've fought that I don't like and that gives me extra incentive. It's his attitude. The last few fights that he won by decision he showed a strong sense of entitlement and I didn't really like that.

"Wrestling is one of his strengths, but it'll be null and void against me. He has no chance against my wrestling. He actually thinks he does, which is good for me for him to have those delusions in his head. He's got decent boxing, but I don't see him proving a lot of difficulties for me."

Hieron has won four of his last five fights via decision, winning a split decision over former U.S. Olympic judo team member Rick Hawn on May 7 to earn the title shot. Askren himself has won four of his five Bellator fights via decision, and the one stoppage was when the ref stopped the match on a guillotine that wasn't fully sunk in.

Askren, who trains at Dick Roufus' Roufussport camp in Milwaukee, is a throwback to the early days of the sport where someone would be world class in their specific aspect of the sport, but also have beginner-level ability in other key aspects. In his case, he came in a beginner at the striking game. There is no secret to what Askren is going to do in a match, but his wrestling style is unorthodox, so even opponents who have trained extensively in wrestling don't have experience in what Askren calls his "funky" style.

"The jiu-jitsu came a lot easier," he said. "It was a natural transition from my wrestling style. Striking has been a little more difficult."

But he's getting a kick out of it. He regularly spars with Anthony Pettis, the former World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight champion, and he finds his noticeable improvement fun.

"It's kind of fun doing new things," he said. "When I spar with Anthony Pettis and try and be a smooth boxer, I can't do it and I have to fall back on my wrestling and get physical. Every now and then, you land some punches and kicks, or you block some punches and kicks. That's a great feeling, and it's a feeling that I didn't get in my last few years in wrestling once I reached a high level."

"The thing that differentiates him from other wrestlers is that he doesn't have good wrestling, he has the best wrestling of anyone [in MMA] in his division," noted Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney. "Jay wrestled at Hofstra but Ben's at a level that doesn't exist in the sport at 170. There are other aspects he will work on and get refined, but one aspect is better than anyone in the world. The question is, does Jay have enough wrestling to keep Ben away to where he can use what you'd assume his advantage is standing?"

Outside the cage, Askren in recent months has been pushing Bellator to do something for tornado victims in Joplin, Mo. Askren did a wrestling clinic just outside Joplin right after the tornado hit and was moved by the devastation.

"I was there in June, the week after the tornado hit and it was crazy," he said. "I texted Bjorn that day and said, 'Is there something we can do for these people?' I saw people have their lives and homes taken away. My first initial idea was to do a camp or clinic for kids, to give their parents a break for a few days, but we couldn't put it together. Bjorn thought it would be good to give a lot of tickets away so people who have fun at a Bellator event."

"Literally right when the tornado hit, Ben called me and said he was going out there and the first thing out of his mouth was, 'What can I do to help?' He didn't ask what we could do. Our season had ended that week so I didn't have a TV vehicle that week to ask people for help."

Last weekend, Bellator had an event scheduled at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Okla., 17 miles from Joplin. Rebney noted that he talked to the mayor and the casino helped by contacting the media.

Even though the event was almost sold out, the casino gave 200 tickets to the CBS affiliate to give away at the local high school homecoming football game. The day before the event, Rebney and announcer Sean Wheelock met with Red Cross workers in the area and gave out 100 tickets to workers and National Guard volunteers, and went on television asking people if they could donate to, RebuildJoplin.org.

"Ben had told me this, that it looks as bad today as it did when it first happened," said Rebney. "There are areas in Joplin that look like the tornado hit a week ago. If you live in Chicago, Los Angeles or New York, it's one of those things you heard about months ago, but you forget about it because it's not on CNN. But you go there and see it and it's just awful."

"It was really beyond description," said Askren. "You see it on television, or see pictures on the Internet, but until you're standing there and you see a neighborhood destroyed, you can't fully get it. It's nothing like you've ever seen."

AZ State Adds Baskren, Snyder & Jordan to Coaching Staff

August 3rd, 2009 by Tom

TEMPE - Former collegiate standouts Bryan Snyder, Ben Askren and Raymond Jordan have joined the coaching staff of the Arizona State University wrestling program, Head Coach Shawn Charles announced Tuesday. All three individuals, who will join current assistant coach Brian Stith on the staff, were multiple All-Americans and conference champions in their time on the mats and will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the mats in Tempe.

"I am very excited to have all three of these men on my staff, "Charles said. "I have worked with them all in the past and I believe they bring a lot to the table as we push to become a very successful program once again. I really feel our coaching staff is second-to-none and I know each of these men are ready to work hard to help our program succeed both on the mats and off. I look forward to watching this program continue to grow with their help."

A four-time All-American and two-time NCAA runner-up for Nebraska, Snyder will serve as the head assistant coach on Charles' staff while both Askren and Jordan will serve as volunteer assistant coaches. Askren, a 2008 U.S. Olympian and two-time NCAA Champion at Missouri, and Jordan, a two-time All-American at Missouri, will also continue their training as members of the Sunkist Kids organization while assisting with the Sun Devil program. All three have worked with Charles in the past as well: Charles was a coach during Snyder's senior season and both were on the staff together for two seasons (2003-04 and 2004-05); Charles was an assistant coach at MU for the past two years where Askren was a volunteer coach and Jordan was a competitor for the Tigers.

Snyder was one of the top wrestlers at 157 pounds from 1999-02 as he collected four All-America honors after placing fourth, fifth, second and second in his NCAA appearances. One of the few four-time champions in the history of the Big XII Conference, Snyder compiled a career record of 136-11 with his .925 winning percentage standing as the best in Husker history. Snyder was equally as successful in the classroom during his time in Lincoln as he was selected as the school's 2002 Student-Athlete of the Year. He graduated from NU with a pair of degrees (Sociology and Communication Studies) in 2002 before coaching at Harvard for one season. After his stint with the Crimson, Snyder returned to NU where he served as a graduate assistant coach while working toward his Masters in Sociology, which he earned in 2005. Recently, he has spent the past three years at the University of Colorado where he studied as a Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology.

"I am really excited to work alongside Shawn Charles and the rest of the staff to bring Arizona State back to national prominence, "Snyder said. I am confident that we can do big things at Arizona State and I am anxious to get on campus and get to work by helping our student-athletes excel on the mat and in the classroom as well."

"Bryan is going to help me bring together all the pieces that we need to make our program very successful, "Charles said. "He coached at Harvard as well and academics is big on his list. I know he is going to help make sure that our wrestlers are doing the things academically that we need to do to be among the top programs in our sport and across the board. We are going to go after wrestlers that can get the job done in the classroom as well as on the mat and he will be a big part of that. He also is from one of the more prestigious high schools in the country (Easton High School in Pennsylvania) and I feel he will be able to help us attract some of the East Coast talent that will continue to help the Sun Devil program rise to the top once again."

Askren was one of the elite collegiate competitors in the nation during his time at Missouri (2003-07) where his exciting style of wrestling led him to the finals of the 174-pound weight class at the NCAA Championships four times. A three-time Big XII champion, Askren won the national title in each of his last two seasons by winning 87 matches in a row and pinning numerous foes. For his dominance, he was named the Dan Hodge Winner twice while also collecting the Schalles Award (Best Pinner) twice. Askren built a career record of 153-7 in Columbia with 93 wins by fall (fourth-best in NCAA history) while also posting a national record of 18-consecutive wins by fall in the first period. A four-time NWCA All-Academic and four-time Academic All-Big XII honoree, Askren spent the past two years as a volunteer assistant coach with the Tigers while training for and competing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where the member of Team USA went 1-1 in the 74kg freestyle competition.

"I am very excited to help Coach Charles take the Sun Devils back to the top, "Askren said. "Coach Charles helped me tremendously in my Olympic run in 2008. I feel like Arizona State is a great school to recruit at and has the potential to challenge for a national title year after year. I am very motivated to seeing that become reality and look forward to doing all I can to help the Sun Devils reach that goal."

"With all his accolades, Ben certainly brings a lot of wrestling credentials to the table, "Charles said. "He is going to be the guy that will work with our 165, 174 and 184-pound wrestlers and help prepare them to compete at a high level and to become national champions. He is a great guy and has a unique style of wrestling, which many call "funk". He will be able to teach our guys a different style of wrestling that I feel will help them understand the sport better and give them more tools to become better wrestlers and win more matches."

Jordan is the most recent graduate on the staff as he graduated in December with his degree in personal finance planning from MU. A four-time NCAA qualifier, Jordan was a two-time All-American for the Tigers and just the fourth MU wrestler to earn the national honor in multiple weight classes as he finished fifth at 184 pounds as a junior and then was third at 174 pounds as a senior. The 2007 Big XII champion at 184, Jordan compiled a career record of 123-29 and was the 15th wrestler in the program's history to record 100 or more victories in a career. His win total also stands as the fourth-most in program history. A three-time high school state champion from North Carolina and a high school All-American, Jordan was involved with the MU program off the mats as well as he served as the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) on campus during his senior year.

"I am excited to come to Arizona State and work alongside a talented group of coaches, "Jordan said. "The program has a strong tradition of being very successful and I am looking forward to helping restore that reputation. ASU is only one of a handful of programs that has tasted what it is like to win a National Championship and I hope to help them reach their goals of achieving that title again. I am really appreciative of this opportunity to join the Sun Devil staff and look forward to many great years ahead."

"Raymond is a hard worker and earned many accolades at Missouri, "Charles said. "He will work with our wrestlers at 184, 197 and heavyweight and I know he will work hard to make sure those student-athletes are physically ready to compete and be well prepared to challenge for All-America honors and national titles. I am very happy to have someone like Raymond in our program because he is an all-around good guy with great character and determination to succeed. I was very excited when he told me he would be coming out to train with Sunkist and to help our program as well."

The Sun Devil coaching staff is currently preparing for the 2009-10 season and will look to build upon the program's 20th-place showing at the 2009 NCAA Wrestling Championships. ASU will be led by a pair of returning All-Americans in Anthony Robles (fourth place at 125) and Chris Drouin (sixth place at 141).

The Snyder File
"¢ Four-time All-American for Nebraska at 157 pounds (1999-02)
"¢ Two-time NCAA finalist (2001, 2002)
"¢ Four-time Big XII Conference champion
"¢ Three-time NWCA All-Star participant
"¢ Career 136-11 overall and 69-4 dual records (#2 on NU wins lists)
"¢ Career winning percentage leader at NU (.925)
"¢ Four-time NWCA All-Academic
"¢ Four-time Academic All-Big XII selection
"¢ Graduated from NU in 2002 (two degrees: Sociology, Communication Studies) and in 2005 (Master's in Sociology)
"¢ Working toward Ph.D. in Sociology at Colorado

The Askren File
"¢ 2008 U.S. Champion and U.S. Olympian (74kg freestyle)
"¢ Two-time NCAA Champion for Missouri at 174 pounds (2006, 2007)
"¢ Four-time NCAA finalist and All-American (2004-07)
"¢ Three-time Big XII Conference champion
"¢ Two-time Dan Hodge Award winner
"¢ Two-time Schalles Award winner
"¢ Career 153-7 record at MU
"¢ Won 93 matches by fall (fourth-most in NCAA history)
"¢ Won 18-consecutive matches by fall in the first period (NCAA record)
"¢ Undefeated over his last two years of competition at MU
"¢ Won his last 87 matches in a row (Top 10 in NCAA history)
"¢ Four-time NWCA All-Academic selection
"¢ Four-time Academic All-Big XII selection
"¢ Graduated from Missouri in 2007

The Jordan File
"¢ Two-time All-American for Missouri at 174 (2009) and 184 (2008)
"¢ Only the fourth Tiger to earn All-America honors at two different weights
"¢ Four-time NCAA qualifier (three times at 184 and once at 174)
"¢ 2007 Big XII Champion at 184 pounds
"¢ Career record of 123-29 made him the 15th Tiger to win 100 or more matches in a career
"¢ His 123 career wins ranks as the fourth-most in MU history
"¢ Graduated from MU in December 2008 with a degree in Personal Finance Planning

MMA rookie and Olympian Ben Askren, UFC vet Din Thomas win in Missouri

February 25th, 2009 by Tom

 Former Olympian and two-time NCAA Division I national wrestling champion Ben Askren's first professional MMA fight was a quick one.

Askren (1-0), a former University of Missouri wrestler, scored a first-round TKO of Josh Flowers (0-3) at the Holiday Inn Expo Center in Columbia, Mo., at the debut Headhunters Fight League event.

Askren, the head wrestling instructor at American Top Team of Missouri, scored an early takedown and forced an 84-second stoppage after a subsequent ground-and-pound assault.

Askren, a four-time All-American, finished his collegiate wrestling career with a stellar 153-8 record with 91 pins. He went undefeated his junior and senior years with an 87-0 record.

Prior to competing in this year's Beijing Olympics, where he was knocked out of medal contention by eventual bronze medalist Cuba's Ivan Fundora, Askren announced his intentions of going pro in MMA.

As he recently told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com), Askren knows his past accomplishments don't necessarily mean success in MMA.

"The thing in MMA is there's such a large skill set, "Askren said. "I wrestled 17 years fulltime, so I picked up a lot of skills, some I can use still. I know how to get in shape. I know some good ways to work out.

"I know everyone in the room is going to be tough, and nothing's going to be easy (in MMA). There are no easy days, but it's like wrestling. You have to depend on yourself. The stronger man, the better man will win."

Also staking claim to a win at the event was former UFC fighter and "The Ultimate Fighter 4 "cast member Din Thomas (23-8).

Thomas, who dropped from lightweight to featherweight for the fight, stopped Dustin Peiter (1-1) in the first round of the night's main event.

Olympic wrestler Ben Askren’s First MMA Fight

February 8th, 2009 by Tom

Mixed Martial Arts Videos on Purefight

170 Lbs Ben Askren Vs Josh Flowers

Askren set for Olympic wrestling trials

May 27th, 2008 by Tom

Former Missouri wrestler Ben Askren, top, is competing at the Olympic Trials on June 13-15 in Las Vegas.

By DAVID THIESSEN

Ben Askren Wrestling

It would be wise not to doubt Ben Askren.

He is competing at the Olympic Trials in Las Vegas on June 13-15, and he has faced his share of doubters along the way.

The former Missouri wrestler faced doubts that he could win in college because he was not fast or strong enough. Askren adopted his 'funky' style, utilizing his unique ability as a scrambler to win NCAA national championships in 2006 and 2007.

Even then, the doubters did not go away.

While Askren's style worked in college with folkstyle wrestling, which places more emphasis on scrambling, it did not fit as well on the international level with freestyle wrestling. In freestyle, wrestlers stay on their feet most of the time.

Once again, Askren quieted the doubters, climbing the United States Senior Freestyle rankings at 74 kilograms/163 pounds to the top. He also represented the United States at the World Championships in February.

Of course, the doubters returned before the ASICS U.S. National Championships, which were held on April 23-25. Askren was seeded third at 163 pounds.

Like he has in the past, Askren proved the doubters wrong. He won his first freestyle national championship in convincing fashion, not losing a single period during the tournament.

"A lot of young guys don't make it right away, so people were doubting me," Askren said. "I don't think they are doubting me anymore."

Askren has never been one to shy away from a challenge. His current goal is to make the Olympic team and then win a gold medal.

Askren, who began wrestling when he was 6, first set his eyes towards the Olympics when he was 15. He was at the 2000 Olympic Team Trials in Dallas and remembers watching Greco-Roman

wrestlers Garrett Lowney and Dennis Hall. Both Lowney, a bronze-medalist in 2000, and Hall, a silver-medalist in 1996, are from Askren's home state of Wisconsin.

"I was watching the best wrestlers in the country, and I just wanted to be a part of that," Askren said.

Askren then set a goal of making the Olympic Trials in 2004. He beat his goal by a year, making the World Team Trials in 2003 and then placed fifth in 2004 at the Olympic Trials.

"How much better I got every year was amazing," Askren said. "I went 0-2 at the national tournament as a freshman in high school, and that was against 15 and 16-year-olds, and then as a senior I won it. The jumps I made were outstanding. I never really said I can't be that good. There was never a ceiling."

Now Askren likes his chances to win the Olympic Trials.

"I am the favorite," he said, oozing confidence. "There is no two ways about it."

Recently, Northwestern University wrestler Jake Herbert joined Askren in Columbia for a week to train. The two have been friends since they competed against each other in 11th grade.

Herbert said he is not surprised by Askren's quick ascension to the top of the 163-pound division because Joe Williams, a six-time national champion, moved from 163-pounds to 185-pounds.

"Anybody could have stepped up and taken it, but Ben obviously wants it the most and has been working the hardest," Herbert said.

Askren has been training twice a day, working on his technique, lifting weights and running in the morning. Then in the afternoon he wrestles with Missouri wrestlers or friends who visit, like Herbert.

Over the past year, Askren has been focusing on adapting his technique. He entered the 2007 World Team Trials confident as always, but finished sixth.

"I thought I was so much better than every other wrestler, that no matter what happened, they would make a mistake and I would catch them in these mistakes," Askren said. "Really, I had some glaring weaknesses in what I was doing, so after the trials I had to fix them."

He scrapped his scrambling style and began wrestling more on his feet, keeping opponents away from his legs and preventing them from finishing attacks. Now, Askren said he has no glaring weaknesses.

"I'm going to be very tough to beat for two periods when they can't even beat me for one period," Askren said.

Like always, Askren is confident in his abilities, even though making the Olympic team is tougher than anything he faced in college. He is competing against former NCAA and national champions.

"Only seven guys make an Olympic team every four years," Herbert said. "That's ridiculous."

But Askren knows that he has beaten his main competition over the past year, and his recent national championship has proved to him that his hard work has corrected past flaws.

"I wish it could happen next weekend, I'm ready," Askren said. "I want to make the team and start focusing. I know that I'm good enough to beat these guys, and I'm ready to focus on the international guys."